We’re only halfway through the holidays. And yet somehow, despite being confined to the house, I think I still may have managed to eat my own weight in Christmas cookies.
I’d say I’m lucky that I don’t wrestle with blood sugar issues. But I’m not sure luck has a whole lot to do with it. Because I have a secret weapon. Two of them, in fact.
And if you’re at all concerned about your own blood sugar, you might want to stick around. Because I’m going to share both of them with you today.
And these surprising solutions could help YOU keep your numbers in check too. Because sure, the holidays might be the “most wonderful time of the year.” But for folks with diabetes or those who simply need to keep an eye on their glucose levels, they’re ALSO paved with sugary (DELICIOUS) landmines.
And let’s face it, unless you have the iron will of Superman, indulging… or slipping up… from time to time is going to happen. (I mean, they were fresh baked gingerbread for goodness sake, what did you EXPECT me to do?)
But if you prepare for those pitfalls NOW, you can sail right on through to New Year’s without worrying about every single bite. This isn’t a ticket to eat anything and everything you want for the rest of your days, of course. But it could help make a big difference when you need it most.
Spice-rack secret weapons
Best of all? You may already have these secret solutions in your kitchen RIGHT NOW. And if you’re thinking one of them is cinnamon, it’s not. But you’re close. They’re spice rack cousins.
However, before I tell you about them, I should point out that cinnamon IS a blood sugar hero, too. In fact, I recently wrote about how if you’re prediabetic, cinnamon could help you avoid a diabetes diagnosis.
Now let’s go ahead and take a closer look at my spice-rack-secret-weapons: fennel and cumin.
Exciting research, and real-world results, have revealed these two underused spices could help you gain a bit more control over your blood sugar. Plus, you might even shed a few pounds too.
Fight blood sugar spikes with fennel
Fennel’s distinct licorice-like taste makes it an unexpected and fun addition to all kinds of dishes. You can use fresh fennel raw in a salad, braised as a side dish, or stirred into a soup, for example.
Or try using dried fennel seeds to give your favorite meals an extra pop of flavor. They add a slightly-sweet anise-like flavor to savory meat dishes, stews, scrambled eggs, veggies, fruit salads, and more.
Plus, the seeds can be used to make a tasty, blood-sugar-friendly, herbal tea.
- Soak one teaspoon of fennel seeds in a cup of warm water for 30 minutes
- Crush the seeds in the soaking water
- Boil the crushed fennel seed and water mix
- Strain out the seeds and sip
Traditional healers have used fennel extracts and seeds for centuries. Herbalists say they effectively relieve gas and indigestion, as well as calm coughs. And fennel can reportedly help with weight control and, of course, reducing blood sugar.
According to a study published in the journal Clinical Nutrition Research, fennel tea is an effective appetite suppressant. Overweight women who sipped on the tea before eating at a lunch buffet reported less hunger and increased feelings of fullness.
And several promising animal studies confirm that fennel extracts are aces when it comes to reducing blood sugar. In a placebo-controlled study, a daily dose of fennel essential oil significantly reduced blood sugar levels in lab animals in less than a month.
Fennel extracts dramatically lowered blood sugar in diabetic rats in another. In fact, their average blood sugar levels plummeted over 49 percent, from a sky-high 162.5 down to a normal 81.97.
We still need research to be completed on fennel’s ability to help control blood sugar in humans. But experts say it could be the spice’s manganese levels that are the key to its powers. Multiple studies have shown that folks with diabetes have lower levels of this critical mineral.
And the real-world results of folks like me who already use the spice might be all the evidence you need to give it a try yourself.
Curb blood sugar with cumin
Savory, flavorful cumin is another underused spice in most of our spice racks. The aromatic, nutty seeds are delicious in a variety of foods, including bread, sauerkraut, scrambled eggs, and chili. And ground they make a terrific rub for pork chops and salmon.
But cumin doesn’t just deliver on flavor. Experts say cumin can also reduce elevated blood sugar.
In one placebo-controlled study, a cumin essential oil significantly lowered blood sugar levels in a group of type 2 diabetics. The volunteers took either 100 mg or 50 mg of cumin oil a day.
After eight weeks, both groups had significantly lower fasting blood sugar, insulin and, HgA1c (a measurement of glucose over time) levels. And their insulin sensitivity was increased.
In another study, a cumin extract improved blood sugar and increased insulin sensitivity in diabetic rodents. And in a study published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology, cumin reduced blood glucose and AGEs in diabetic rats better than a common diabetes drug.
Recent research has found cumin could also lower cholesterol and help with weight loss, two other concerns important to folks living with type 2 diabetes.
In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, researchers ran a head to head test between cumin and a weight-loss drug. Both the cumin and the drug led to significant weight loss in the overweight volunteers. But the spice also triggered a healthy drop in insulin levels.
And in another study, overweight women who ate around a teaspoon of ground cumin powder in yogurt daily lost a significant amount of weight. Plus, they had measurable drops in their body fat and waist size after three months.
Spices alone won’t give you perfect blood sugar. And they aren’t a diabetes cure, of course. But using more of these two blood-sugar friendly spices could give you the extra help you need to keep your blood sugar from spiking during the holidays and beyond.